As the Vancouver Canucks stood on the blueline waiting for the singing of the national anthem a round of applause broke out.
But the cheers weren’t for them – the fans were clapping for a young girl from Campbell River.
Madison Oke, 10, had the thrill of a lifetime March 16, when the Canucks took on the Colorado Avalanche.
Oke skated laps with the Canucks during the pre-game skate and stood beside members of her favourite hockey team during the anthems.
“It was the best time of my life,” Oke said of the experience. “It was really exciting to skate with the Canucks.”
Although having everyone’s attention on her as her face lit up the Jumbotron – and her name was announced over the loud speaker at Rogers Arena – was nerve racking.
“I was a little bit nervous to have a lot of people looking at me.”
The Campbell River Minor Hockey player, who splits her time between the Seals (an atom house team) and the Hurricanes (girls peewee), was the lucky winner of the Littlest Canuck contest.
Oke’s short essay explained how hockey gives her the chance to spend quality time with her dad, who is also her coach, her friends and teammates and family who come out to watch her games and practices.
Based on the quality of submissions, the field was then narrowed down to five. Oke’s name was then drawn and she was presented with a signed Alex Burrows jersey.
“It was also a highlight for me to see one of our local kids skating and chatting with the Canuck players on the ice,” said Ian Roberts of Marine Harvest, one of the contest sponsors. “Madison is an excellent skater and I’m pretty sure I saw scouts making some notes.”
Also attending the game were her parents Dwayne and Jennifer, and her older sister Briana.
“It was such a neat thing for my daughter to do,” said Jennifer. “It tugged on my heart strings to see her with such a big smile on her face as she skated around.”
The highlight for Oke was her chat with Canuck Manny Malhotra and the fist pumps from the Canucks bench as she left the ice. She also had the right feeling about the final score, “I guessed the score would be 4-2 for the Canucks and I was right!”